With multiple short films and TV shows under his belt (including hosting Māori TV talk show O Whakaaro), Tainui Tukiwaho scored his biggest screen role to date in 2010: playing legendary entertainer Billy T James in telemovie Billy. He also acted in another based-on-a-true-story TV film, Tangiwai. Fluent in te reo, the 2001 Unitec graduate was in 2015 awarded a place in artistic mentoring programme Art Venture.
My understanding is that at one point he was filming during the day and doing live gigs at night. I just don't know how he did it ... I only pretended to do it and I was exhausted! Tainui Tukiwaho on playing Billy T James, Sunday Star-Times, 14 August 2011
“Everyone plays a part. Who’s going to play yours?”. This tagline is given a Twilight Zone twist in this Moa-nominated feature about two Jakes. Jacob (Jason Fitch) is an everyman who is made redundant when his life is ‘recast’ by a shadowy agency. When the new, more confident Jake (Being Eve's Leighton Cardno, also award-nominated) makes moves on his lost love, Jacob fights to get his life back. The Listener’s David Larsen tweeted of Doug Dillaman's indie-funded debut: “The smartest bit of low-fi high-IQ science fiction New Zealand has produced.”
Xmas Eve 1953: Cricketer Bob Blair (Ryan O'Kane) is in South Africa, days away from batting for New Zealand. His fiancée Nerissa Love (The Lovely Bones' Rose McIver) is boarding an ill-fated train, that will plunge into the Whangaehu River at Tangiwai, in our worst rail disaster. The Dominion Post's Linda Burgess found this tele-movie retelling of the tragic romance "first-rate", noting "consistently excellent" performances from O'Kane, McIver, and Miranda Harcourt as Nerissa's wary mother. The finale features a miniature train built by Weta Workshop.
Created by Outrageous Fortune’s James Griffin and Rachel Lang, this South Pacific Pictures-produced TV3 dramedy is about a family of Norse gods who wash up in 21st Century New Zealand. Emmett Skilton stars as Axl aka Odin, who must restore his brothers' lapsed superpowers and find his wife Frigg ("no pressure, then"). But he is thwarted by Norse goddesses and Māori deities. The combo of fantastical plot and droll Kiwi bloke banter won loyal fans, who successfully campaigned for a third (and final) season. Johnsons screened on the SyFy channel in the US in 2014.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an eponymous inner city Auckland hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, the iconic show is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week, and in 2012 the show celebrated its 20th anniversary making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture, most famously, “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!”.